DIY This Old Garden Shed: How to Create a Dream Playhouse for Your Child


If you have a shed in your backyard full of clutter gathering dust and some kids who are desperate for a playhouse in the garden, you don’t have to break the bank to find a good solution.

The answer is to turn that unloved garden shed into the sort of playhouse that your children will spend hours enjoying.

Here is what you have to do to transform your shed into the sort of playhouse that your kids will be delighted with. There is a look at why DIY is better, plus tips on how to plan and start your project. Also some ideas on making your playhouse comfortable and suggestions for deciding on a theme and paint finish.

Money in the bank

The first thing to say is that this is a brilliant DIY project because you get to turn your shed into something far more attractive and most importantly, instead of spending thousands on a typical playhouse that you might still need to build yourself anyway, you will get something unique for a lot less money.

Getting started

You can always get plenty of ideas and inspiration for your playhouse by looking at sites like Pinterest to see what others and done and you might even get some tips on what works by looking at some playhouse designs offered by manufacturers.

You will have to consider the limitations of your existing structure but most typical sheds have enough scope and space to allow you to come up with some colorful and creative solutions.

Clear all the clutter from the shed and give the inside and out a deep clean so that you can see exactly what you have to work with and can make any repairs or alterations needed.

You might also need to get some tools for the job from a site like rs-online.com so that you have everything you require to complete the task once you get started.

Safe and warm

If you want your kids to spend hours enjoying their new playhouse you will need to make it a warm and safe environment with added options like power and lighting too.

Your old shed might benefit from having a new floor installed and you could install some panels on the wall to provide extra insulation. If you do plan to put some heat and power into the playhouse, think about getting an electrician to do this before you put the insulation panels up.

Decide what you want

If you have boys or girls to entertain with your playhouse, this might have an impact on your design options.

Girls often love the idea of a fantasy theme, so you could make your shed look more like a princesses castle or if is boys you are looking to entertain, a log cabin theme can go down well.

You might just decide to create something that appeals to both boys and girls, of course, it doesn’t matter what you decide to do, but it obviously makes a big difference to know what you want before you get the paintbrush in your hand.

Also, make sure you use a paint that is designed to cope with the elements and protect your wood at the same time.

If you decide to turn your shed into a playhouse it shouldn’t take more than a few weekends to get the job done, but the enjoyment will last a lot longer than that.

Callum Thorpe is always up to something! He is a builder by trade and loves starting (and finishing!!) new projects no matter how large or small for friends and family.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Do You Know If You Have Pests in your Home?

If pests are present in your home you need to make sure the situation is dealt with as soon as possible. If you fail to take immediate action pests can cause damage to your home. It’s also possible that people in your household could become ill as a result of exposure to the droppings and urine of pests. Of course, some household pests can also bite and sting.

But how can you tell if you have pests in your home? There are some signs to look out for, that may indicate the presence of pests in your home. If you have any doubts then it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can always have your home checked for pests, by an exterminator in Arlington Heights. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how you might be able to tell if there are pests in your home and what will happen if you call a pest control expert.

Signs that you may have pests in your home 

Some pests, such as termites, are hard to notice until they have caused damage. They eat the wooden structures in your home from the inside out so the first sign you see might be the bending, flaking and breaking of these structures.

Sometimes, you can hear pests such as raccoons and rats. You may hear scurrying noises in the crawl space of your home, or in the attic. You may also be able to smell the droppings or urine of pests that have invaded your property.

Many pests chew on wood, and even electrical wiring. If you notice any such damage you should call a pest control expert to help.

What happens when you call a pest control professional 

If you ask a pest control professional to help rid your home of pests they will call to your premises and determine if there are pests present. If they are, you will be advised about what action is necessary. You need to listen carefully so that you know exactly what work is going to be carried out and what safety precautions need to be taken.

If there are young children, people with breathing difficulties or pregnant women present in your home they will usually be asked to leave the premises while the pest control work is carried out. Generally, they will also be asked to remain outside of the property whilst the treated surfaces dry; usually 2-4 hours.

Pest control treatments are perfectly safe as long as you follow any instructions that you are provided with.

You can see that there are some signs that may suggest the presence of pests in your home. If you notice any of these signs you should contact a pest control expert as soon as possible. The more time you take to seek help, the more likely it is that damage will be caused. This is the last thing you want to happen to your home.

How Do I Know That My Child’s Shampoo is Non-Toxic?

You’ve heard horror stories about toxic chemicals in kids shampoo—but how can you tell if your shampoo is safe? Read on to find out!

You might have heard: There could be dangerous chemicals in your child’s shampoo, but is it true?

If so, what kinds of effects can these contaminants have? Could you be harming your children by using toxic shampoo?

The truth is that there are plenty of controversial chemicals being added to hygiene products across the board, and it’s your responsibility to choose the safest options available, especially when it comes to kids shampoo.

Formaldehyde, Phthalates and Parabens

You might be surprised to discover ominous-sounding chemicals like formaldehyde, phthalates and parabens are part of your child’s shampoo products. But what are these chemicals and how can you avoid them?

Unfortunately, manufacturers aren’t required to list the ingredients they use in hygiene products. While many are reducing or eliminating their use of possibly harmful chemicals, others are reluctant to do so without being forced through state regulation.

Let’s look at just what these chemicals are:

Formaldehyde is a well-known poison and carcinogen, most frequently used as embalming fluid. No hygiene product manufacturer includes this chemical intentionally, but it can find its way into end products as a manufacturing byproduct.

• Phthalates are a large group of possibly harmful chemicals that have been shown to end up in users’ bloodstreams. At least eight of these chemicals have been added to the “Chemicals of Concern” list maintained by the U.S. EPA, according to WebMD. Generally, the only way to avoid them is by purchasing products that explicitly claim to be “Phthalate-free”

• Parabens are preservatives commonly used in shampoos. Their presence has been linked to breast cancer tumors, but studies are as of yet inconclusive. As a result, their use in small doses (between 0.01 percent and 0.03 percent) is generally considered “safe” by government bodies

Although the Environmental Working Group maintains and regularly updates a list of what hygiene products contain these substances, it cannot cover everything on the market. This is why we recommend only using hygiene products that are guaranteed —by the manufacturer— to be free of possibly harmful chemicals.

Until research shows conclusively that certain chemicals are indeed harmful, state regulators across the world have their hands tied when it comes to banning them. Even then, such as in the case of formaldehyde, they may be unable to enforce those regulations without putting strict quality control measures in place, which manufacturers predictably lobby heavily against.

How to Find Safe Kids Shampoo

Now that we’re aware of the risks involved with using inexpensive off-the-shelf shampoo products, it’s time consumers made the effort to protect their health and the health of their families. The best way to ensure this is by purchasing products made exclusively from all-natural ingredients—a kids shampoo whose manufacturers understand the need to avoid phthalates, parabens and other controversial chemical additives.

Beat the Rainy Day Blues with Some Indoor Drone Fun


More people are flying drones both outdoors and indoors.  In fact, flying inside may be a great way to beat the blues on a rainy day or spend time in the winter.  Here are some tips to flying safely and ensuring you’re using the best drone for the setting and your level of ability.

Choose the Right Kind of Drone

Unless you have access to a huge warehouse, you’re limited to nano, micro, and mini drones.  FPV and Phantom drones, being larger, are best for outdoor flying.  Therefore, the kind of drone you choose is very important when flying in an indoor space.  A smaller drone will provide better maneuverability in a confined space, which is what you need.

Use Propeller Hulls

Hulls wrap around your propellers and serve a twofold purpose.  Firstly, the hull protects the propeller from getting damaged.  Secondly, the protective outer layer protects furniture, walls, and ceilings from being exposed to a propeller.  Ask your vendor or shop for added parts online.  There are all sorts of modifications available.

Stay Away from Pets

It’s tempting to tease your cat or dog with a flying drone.  However, for the safety or your pet (and your drone), it’s best to fly the drone away from your pet.  Furthermore, if you tease your pet while the drone is in flight, what’s to keep the pet from attacking or clawing at the drone once it’s landed and resting idle?

Avoid Ceilings, Floors, and Walls

You’re probably thinking this tip is an obvious one, but ceilings, floors, and walls should be avoided for more than one reason.  Aside from avoiding damage, one should avoid these areas for optimal flight.  If a drone gets too close to a surface, whether up, down, or to the side, the lack of airflow will cause it to get unstable.

Adjust the Control Settings

Drones for kids usually have an indoor setting.  The specific setting makes the drone more sensitive to controls, so it’s easier to maneuver in tighter spaces.  Moreover, it’s best to reset the drone’s controls before flying indoors, especially if you were previously outdoors with it.

Find a Quiet Ride

It’s assumed you know the drone will make some sound while maintaining flight indoors. However, you could shop for drones that are quieter than most.  For example, the Syma X4 was reviewed and revered for its quiet operation.  You’re not going to find an altogether ‘quiet’ drone, but you can find something that makes less noise if that is going to be an issue.

Get a Rollercopter

Rollercopters seem to be invented for moms and dads who are hesitant to let kids fly in the house.  The design encapsulates the drone, so the child could keep it on the ground, or when taken to the air, there’s an added layer of cushion and protection.  While purists may not like the idea of a cage or orb surrounding the drone, it’s another layer of protection and peace of mind for parents.

Jennifer Lofton and her husband and kids love playing with new gadgets. From drones to 3D pens and printers they turn playtime into fun family time.

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Do You Fix a Running Toilet?


Having a running toilet may seem like a trivial problem, but even that slight trickle of water will add up and can end up meaning a big increase in your water bill at the end of the month. It’s a pretty common problem and thankfully it is a fairly easy one to fix on your own. Of course, you can always call a trusted professional like the Plumbing Detectives (a Sydney plumber) but feel free to give it a shot yourself with some simple DIY techniques.

What’s the Problem?

First of all, what exactly is a “running toilet”? You need to understand the problem before you can figure out a fix.

When the bowl fills back up after flushing, there is a float inside the tank that moves upwards as the water level goes up. As the float moves, it shifts a lever that lowers a cap on the inflow pipe. So when the tank is full, the water stops coming in. Sometimes, things get out of alignment and the cap never quite closes the pipe. So water keeps coming in, and then just running back out through the overflow. This leaking can result in a loss of hundreds of gallons (possibly even thousands) every day.

Giving the handle a jiggle can sometimes fix the problem temporarily until the next flush but you’ll need to do something more permanent to really fix it.

How to Fix It?

Thankfully, the way a toilet is designed, this small “leak” doesn’t actually result in any spills or floods so this isn’t some fast emergency fix that you need to rush into. You can take your time to check out the problem and take the right steps. There are generally 2 scenarios that keep that cap from closing properly over the inflow pipe. One is that the lever isn’t aligned correctly and not moving enough to create the closure. The other issue is that the cap itself is worn or crusted with hard water minerals and not creating a proper seal.

If the cap (also called a flapper or a stopper) is looking bad, you can buy a replacement and that should help clear up the problem. If the issue is with the float and lever, you need to try something else.

The usual first approach is a little muscle, and give a gentle bend to the lever so that it forces the cap down when the float is in the high water position. It can be a little tricky but it’s really not that difficult. There may also be a chain between the lever and the stopper, which might need to be shortened or lengthened to adjust the position of the cap. If you can’t get it right, you can always just buy a new float and lever assembly and replace the faulty one in your toilet.

So next time you hear that frustrating little trickle noise coming from the toilet tanks, you should know what to do.

Prevention

Sometimes the stopper and valve slips out of position just due to use and there is little you can do about it. Don’t be too forceful with the handle when you flush, and periodically check the state of the flapper inside the tank to catch any problems before the running starts.

 

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net